Nuggets fire coach Brian Shaw

Denver Nuggets
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DENVER -- After less than two years on the job, the Nuggets fired coach Brian Shaw, the team announced Tuesday.

Nuggets General Manager Tim Connelly recently said Shaw, who was 56-85 during his tenure, was "absolutely" safe as the team's coach for the rest of the season.

"I want to sincerely thank Brian for his time with our organization,” Connelly said in a statement released by the team. “You won’t find a better guy than Brian and he is one of the brightest basketball minds I’ve ever been around. Unfortunately things didn’t go as we hoped, but we know with his basketball acumen that he has a very bright future ahead of him.”

There had been locker room strife with the club, with Shaw recently saying the players might be giving up on the season.

"I think it's hard to try to lose, try to tank, try to go out there with guys who are competing with you and not compete back," Shaw told the Denver Post last month. "It's harder to do that than to just put forth the effort in the first place."

On Monday, Shaw called his team a "laughingstock" at practice after a report surfaced that claimed players broke a huddle before Friday's loss to the Utah Jazz with the chant "1-2-3 ... 6 weeks," a seeming reference that the team was counting down to the end of the terrible season.

Shaw came to the Nuggets at the start of the 2013-14 season after George Karl, who was the reigning NBA Coach of the Year after a 57-win season, was fired following a first-round playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors.

The Nuggets, who went to the playoffs every season since the Karl era began in 2005, missed the postseason in Shaw's first season, going 36-46, their worst mark in 11 seasons. This season, they have the third-worst record in the Western Conference at 20-39.

It was the first time Shaw had been a head coach in the NBA. He was considered a rising coaching star after winning five NBA titles as a player and assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers under Phil Jackson.

Shaw spent six seasons as an assistant under Jackson and was an associate head coach with the Indiana Pacers for two seasons before being hired by the Nuggets.

The Nuggets, losers of six straight games overall and 10 in a row at home, beat the Milwaukee Bucks at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night. Assistant coach Melvin Hunt will be the interim coach for the remainder of the season.

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